KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Viewpoints: Ryan On His Budget Plan; Maryland, Wash. State Making Tough Budget Choices

The Wall Street Journal: The GOP Path To Prosperity 
The open-ended, blank-check nature of the Medicare subsidy threatens the solvency of this critical program and creates inexcusable levels of waste. This budget takes action where others have ducked. But because government should not force people to reorganize their lives, its reforms will not affect those in or near retirement in any way. ... Reform that empowers individuals-with more help for the poor and the sick-will guarantee that Medicare can fulfill the promise of health security for America's seniors (Rep. Paul D. Ryan, 4/5).  

The New York Times: Moment Of Truth
Today, Paul Ryan, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee, is scheduled to release the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal any of us have seen in our lifetimes. Ryan is expected to leap into the vacuum left by the president's passivity. The Ryan budget will not be enacted this year, but it will immediately reframe the domestic policy debate (David Brooks, 4/5).

Denver Post: Government Shutdown Is Only The Undercard
Ryan says it will save $4 trillion over the next 10 years. And most of the savings, from all reports, will come from Medicare and Medicaid. (There will also be some tax overhaul, with the tax cuts for the wealthy - you guessed it - remaining in place.) This is serious stuff. This is about redefining how government works and for whom it works. If you've been waiting to see the impact of the 2010 elections, you need wait no longer. This is it. And it starts with Medicare, which is, you have to admit, a bold place to begin (Mike Littwin, 4/5). 

The Baltimore Sun: Fixing Md.'s Pensions
The agreement today between [state] House and Senate negotiators over changes to Maryland state worker pension and retiree health benefits is probably the most significant step the governor and legislature have taken this year to shore up the state's long-term fiscal health. … The annual costs to the state to maintain those benefits are skyrocketing, and proposing reforms was the most important - and politically risky - thing Gov. Martin O'Malley did this year (4/4). 

The Seattle Times: House Budget Passes Key Test: It Balances
Rep. Ross Hunter, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Monday released his proposed state budget for the two years beginning July 1. ... it meets a couple of our most important tests. First, it balances. ... The result is no fun for a lot of people in Washington: Enrollment would be frozen in the Basic Health Plan and all illegal immigrants ejected...cash grants in the Disability Lifeline program ended (and partly converted to housing subsidies) ... (4/4). 

San Jose Mercury News: California Must Regulate Health Care Premiums
Health insurance companies know all there is to know about maximizing profits. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California both tried to impose rate increases of over 35 percent in the past year, when medical costs rose by just 10 percent. California's insurance commissioner needs the power to reject excessive health insurance rate increases. The Legislature should pass Assemblyman Mike Feuer's AB 52 requiring companies to seek approval from the state before raising their health insurance rates, similar to requirements in some 20 other states (4/4). 

The Seattle Times: Help Make State's Most Vulnerable Citizens Safer
For many years, Washington state has enjoyed a reputation of having the most cost-effective, long-term-care systems in the nation, with ample choices to help people remain in their own homes or communities, where care is cheaper and more homelike than in nursing facilities. Ironically, one of the central innovations of our "best in the nation" system has become a threat to that system - adult family homes. According to the state Department of Social and Health Services, the number of abuse and neglect complaints in these homes rose 53 percent between 2004 and 2010. ... Clearly there is a need for additional oversight in an industry that cares for the most vulnerable among us (Doug Shadel, 4/3).

Houston Chronicle: Cuts Threaten Our Children's Futures
Proposed cuts to early childhood intervention programs in Texas would jeopardize our children's futures. Whether your child has a disability, developmental delay or is typically developing, the cuts will affect every child. If you believe every child deserves to start kindergarten ready and able to learn, you might be surprised to know that every year we as a nation fail to identify 1.45 million children under the age of 5 who are at risk for developmental delays or other disabilities. ... Early intervention means that for a small investment today, thousands of Houston children will arrive at school without needing special education, which is more than twice as expensive (Elise Hough and James E. Williams Jr., 4/4). 

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